Kids and Pets.

There it is, under the tree — an adorable puppy or kitty! You just know your children are going to love you forever for gifting them with such a wonderful treasure. And then comes the first accident on the carpet, and no one wants to clean it up — and things get worse from there . . . 

Does this sound like your Christmas this year? Pet experts give some clear advice on how to make a pet dog or cat for Christmas a real gift, and not a grievance.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology strongly urges parents and caregivers to never make such a holiday present a complete surprise. Let the child or children know what the rules and expectations are going to be long before Christmas. In fact, the Academy suggests starting the discussion the summer before. And parents can always say “If you get . . . “ instead of “When you get . . . “ just to play it safe.

The Academy warns that almost all children and adolescents have a natural tendency to put off the care and feeding of a pet while they’re engaged in other momentarily more important activities, such as playing video games. Instead of immediately scolding the child and threatening to give the pet away, wise parents will simply point out the suffering that neglect brings to the child’s pet and then wait for their own built-in moral compass kick in.